INSIGHTS: Voices + Views ‘FutureOptometrist’ Shares His Education Expertise With Other Budding ODs By Stephanie Sengwe Friday, June 28, 2019 2:26 PM CHICAGO—When Tyler Mathenia got his first pair of contact lenses while in middle school, he knew immediately that he wanted to be an optometrist. His then doctor always reminded him that no other medical profession offered its patients instant results the way optometry did and from then on, the seed was planted. “It’s not in many other places that you can walk in with a complaint of blurry vision and something as simple as placing a contact lens helps you see everything clear and crisp again. I love being able to make an impact on people’s lives with something so important as vision,” he stated. Years later, the Springfield, Mo. native is now chasing his childhood dream and is a third-year optometry student at the Chicago College of Optometry—Midwestern University. In his first year of optometry school, Mathenia decided to create FutureOptometrist. The page was born out of necessity—instead of posting all his study pictures to his personal account, Mathenia decided to create FutureOptometrist to use as a personal diary where he could chronicle his optometry school journey. FutureOptometrist covers all aspects of Mathenia’s student life. From time spent in the lab, study notes, study areas he may have run into (mainly coffee shops around the area), his travels to industry events, such as Optometry’s Meeting, and even his French bulldog, Louie trying on some frames. While he doesn’t have a set target audience, Mathenia’s Instagram account has proven to be resourceful for pre-optometry students. “I don’t specifically have a target that I’ve set, but I love offering advice and tips that have helped me in optometry school. I only feel like I can offer advice for something that I’ve personally gone through and experienced, so I’ve been in contact with a lot of pre-optometry students in undergrad or first or second year current optometry students that are looking for different ways for studying or different opinions about the field,” he explained. The page has also helped him connect with practicing doctors and other businesses who have supported him by either giving him advice or sharing his posts. “Instagram is a great way to get your face out there in the industry as well as a resource for seeking advice about a variety of topics,” he said. “I’ve honestly been receiving so much quality advice that I screen shot their comments and save them in an album on my phone so I can use them for reference later on. I really love change and productivity hacks, so I enjoy getting advice about different study techniques or other ways doctors/students understand the material or skill that we’re learning.” Mathenia makes sure to update his page everyday—whether it’s creating a post on his timeline or making an Instagram Story. His inspiration comes not only from his life as a student, but also from other pages who are constantly active and engaging with their followers. “I use social media every day and my favorite accounts are the ones that are always active, pulling back the curtain and showing their real-life situation, so I try to do the same. I personally love looking at other Instagram pages for inspiration and how people are spending their time and when I first started school, I followed many pages in the medical field, but none really were optometry specific.”While it can be challenging to keep up with the FutureOptometrist, especially during finals week, Mathenia has found his time on Instagram to be fulfilling. The constant positive feedback he receives from his followers make the time spent taking, editing and captioning each photo that much more worth it. “I think it’s crazy to see how many people value what I have to say and enjoy the things I post. I’ll think something is useful and it’s awesome to see others find that too. I think the most rewarding aspects is when people are use study tips that I’ve suggested or that I use in my practice. I get messages from so many people about how they really love the way I make my charts or how I organize my notes. Then I’ll see them post about how much this technique has made their life simpler or easier to grasp a concept. It’s so rewarding to help someone with something that I get so much value from.” As Mathenia continues his journey through optometry school, he hopes that anyone who visits FutureOptometrist learns more and more about what each year entails. In addition to gleaning study tips and getting a real glimpse into what an optometry student goes through on a daily basis, Mathenia wants anyone who might be looking to create a page of their own to remember that authenticity is the only way to truly connect to an audience. “Remember why you started if you’re making an Instagram page and your main goal is the number of likes, followers or engagement. People pick up on inauthenticity, so post what you love, ignore the rules and cultivate something that you think is beautiful and show what you’re passionate about," he concluded.